El Picacho del Diablo


By: Tren Bartlett



Chiefly Class 2; Some Class 3; A Little Class 4

LEADER: Ed Tracy; participants: Dave & Don Gladstone, Doug Mantle, Tren Bartlett


December 29-

8:50 am, started hiking approximately 200 yards east of the mouth of Canyon Providencia at an elevation of 1,560'. This is approximately one mile beyond the normal parking place for two-wheel drive vehicles.

10:50 am, 2,600', the main creek takes a right angle turn to the left. Go left.

2,750', ducks on right; climb-up a little draw on right to 2,860', then go across & down. This by-passes a difficult waterfall.

2,920', two-level waterfall. We by-passed this one on our Thanksgiving weekend trip by the long short-cut but had to rappel over it on the way out. To rappel, one needs a min. of 180' of rope & an 8' sling. This trip, the pool at the bottom was dry so we didn't have to take our pants off to wade across it and we climbed easily to the middle ledge. There we took off our packs and climbed the rest of the way up the face rather than the slot or wash on the left, primarily because of the hard move getting into it. There was one move on the top that could be considered high class 3. Although we didn't use one, some may want a rope for the last move.

3,220', beautiful Grotto where we had lunch.

4,200', 3:30 pm, main stream makes a sharp turn to the right. We camped there. If one should continue to follow the main stream, he would soon come to a waterfall that can be climbed on the right but then would immediately come to some that must be by-passed. The by-passing could be very time consuming.

December 30-

7:20 am, we filled all of our water containers taking a two-day supply and climbed directly up the ridge that is between the main stream after it makes its turn to the right and the side canyon on the left front; or to say it another way, it is the steep, brush covered ridge that is in the open end of the Y with the main stream before the sharp turn being the leg of the Y. A duck has been built about 20' above the stream on the edge or face of the ridge. I would recommend climbing from about 50' up the side stream on the left to the duck and then up the ridge instead of climbing the lose stuff that is just to the right of the edge of the ridge. The brush isn't as bad as it looks. We stayed on the left side of the little gully or low area while climbing the ridge.

5,600', 9:05 am, we cut over to the right, frolicking thru waist-high to shoulder- high, thick manzanita, to the center of the ridge that extends down from the S/E Ridge, hitting it at 5,720'. Our starting point at 4,200' was merely the lower extremity of the ridge. It wouldn't make a whole lot of difference where one cut over, possibly a little higher might be better; however, our route went quite well. It doesn't matter where you go on the ridge at that general elevation, there's manzanita.

We looked the East Face route over from our vantage point at 5,720' but decided to continue up our ridge to the S/E Ridge because of the required elevation loss to the starting point of the East Face route and the uncertain spots that couldn't be seen.

6,800', big, flat, sheltered camping areas but no water. The main stream at 4,200' was our last stream water.

6,970', 11:10 am, hit the S/E Ridge in a saddle. We concurred that this is the best spot to hit the S/E Ridge from Canon Providencia.

7,720', 12:45 pm, lunch break on S/E Ridge. Magnificent view.

8,740', 3 pm,. S/E Ridge, wide spot with plenty of wood & sheltered from wind. Snack break. I left pack & hiked up ridge for 5 minutes or so looking for a better camping spot but couldn't find one as the ridge narrowed down & was stacked with boulders. We camped at 8,740'. Ed found a bucket in a rock that contained about 6 gal of good drinking water. There were several small buckets along the ridge that provided sipping water after the ice was removed.

Dec. 31-
The barometric pressure had dropped over night causing my altimeter to read about 80' higher in the morning. I set it back for consistent recordings.

7:45 am, we departed camp & Don's fire. Windy at night but beautiful in the am.

9,000', good vantage point to study ridge ahead. We decided to by-pass forthcoming outcroppings by going along the bottom of the slabs on the south or left side of the ridge and then to get back up on the ridge at the obvious saddle just after the ridge swings a little to the south. We dropped to 8,800', which was a little below the bottom of the slabs, climbed back up to the bottom of the slabs below the saddle but couldn't get up there. Doug & Dave found a 6-8' wide ledge at a gentle slope that led right up to the ridge just beyond a point under the saddle, 200~3OO'. It doesn't matter where one get's back up. The whole S/E Ridge from 6,970' to the summit was fairly easy going, relatively speaking. Although we dropped off of the top & went around some of the high points. The Ridge requires skillful route finding in spots & provides one with plenty of opportunity to practice friction-walking, up- down & across slabs; bouldering & scrambling; but unfortunately, very little bushwhacking.

From our vantage point at 9,000', we could see a wash coming up from the S/E that hits the Pinnacle Ridge at the summit area. We considered making our way over to it but decided to take the more scenic ridge route. We walked over from the summit and looked down the wash. It looked as though it would be fairly easy going and would be a good way to top out of Canon Teledo. Good camping spot for 4, possibly 6 or 7 people on the north side of the Southeast Ridge in the saddle just below the South Summit. There is plenty of small brush for a fire and there is excellent shelter from the wind.

11 am, arrived at the South Summit. Very cold wind. Had a steak snack and departed for North Summit at ll:20. Three climbers arrived at the North Summit about two minutes after we arrived on the South Summit.

Traverse- There was more extended exposure between the summits than we encountered on the S/E Ridge. Doug made one 4th class move and set-up a belay for the rest of us. The move was quite easy but there was the chance to fall far enough to be seriously injured. There are a couple of ducks along the route which stays on the south and west sides of the ridge except for the last leg that goes up the middle of the ridge to the North Summit. Only used the one belay on the whole trip.

12:10 pm, arrived at the North Summit. Had a very brief lunch and picture taking stop because of the cold wind. Departed 12:45 pm. for Wall Street- Slot Wash- Night Wash & Campo Noche (6,300'), arriving there at 3:25 pm. The route was pretty well ducked. I didn't take an altimeter reading, but in the lower end of Wall Street or in the upper end of Slot Wash, the trail is on a ledge or shoulder about 20' above the creek on the north side of the creek. You can see where people have been climbing down into and across the creek but there are a couple of ducks ahead of you on the shoulder. Go down and across the creek to the ducks on the other side and continue down the left side of the creek.

The cross over from Slot Wash to Night Wash is in a saddle that has a big duck in the middle of it.

We visited with the other climbers in Campo Noche, one of which was Harold Stier from San Diego, for 10 or 15 minutes and then headed downstream.

5,620', 4:30 pm, set-up camp where canyon narrows- just a fair spot to stop. Some slept down near the creek while others climbed up on the hillside. It was very cold that night. Water froze on bottom of pot while carrying water from creek to camp fire.

Jan. 1-

7:10 am, departed. Considerable ice on rocks in the creek which slowed down the bouldering. Passed good campsites at 3,900' and 4,100' which were large enough for a fairly big group.

3,680', 9:55, took a snack break. Ed asked if we thought anything had been difficult so far. We said, no. Be replied that we had passed most of the difficult sections.

3,000', 11:15 am. It took us 4 hours to drop 2,600' as compared to 8 hours for the same 2,600' drop in Canon Providencia on our Thanksgiving trip.

2,160', 1:25 pin, lunch break about 100 yds. in from the mouth of the canyon. Departed at 1:40 pm to hike across the desert floor, up against the base of the mts., to Ed's Toyota, approx. 7 miles. The first 2/3rd's was on rocks, between prickly undergrowth and thru small washes. The last 1/3 was in lose sand. Following Ed's good guidance, we arrived right at the Toyota at 4:40 pm.

Unfortunately it took so long to get thru customs that we didn't have time to climb Cabezon Pk. on the way home. Oh well, it will be there waiting for us. Driving Distances:

US/Mexico border to Valle Trinidad Rd. About 96 miles, depending on how one comes thru Mexicali. There is a small gas station & store at the junction & a sign that says Valle Trinidad. It is just beyond the 141 kil. sign.

The following readings were taken beginning at the junction- & staying on the right fork

The road forks about 200 yds in from the junction. The left fork becomes very sandy & US cars may have difficulty. The right fork stays on top of the ridges & is a little rough but ok for US cars.

32.5- beginning reading at blacktop (at junction)

34.5- cross roads- go straight thru. The north direction hits Hwy #5 at about 139

48.0- right fork comes back with left fork

48.1- junction- go left; right goes to Pacific Ocean. Good spot for a few to dry camp at junction.

58.0- junction- go left

58.5- enter dry lake. Tracks go all over. Main rd when wet conditions stays high on the lake bed on left or east.

68.0-: road goes in to Rancho Santa Clara- take to climb via Canon Del Diablo

71.8- we cut across dry lake to hit road that goes directly towards mouth of Canon Providencia- not recommended for other than 4-wheel drive vehicles

Road into the next Rancho- Rancho Para- that one normally takes to climb via Canon Providencia is near the end of the dry lake- a mile or so beyond 71.8. We didn't go that far this trip so the mileage wasn't recorded.

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